August 27, 2022
Trump has done so much damage and is such a loathsome human being that it's easy to justify the anger and hatred that so many feel towards him. But some days I find myself feeling more pity than hatred. Such a miserably insecure wannabe. A hollow man. Pathetic, the way he's wrapped his arms around those boxes of files. "Mine!" he whimpers. Proof that he really is important after all.
Haberman has a great piece in the NYT speculating about his reasons for being so resistant to giving up the documents. The likeliest is just that he loved having them. They're evidence of his specialness, the mementos that he can show off, the way he used to show off a discarded basketball shoe from Shaquille O'Neal in his office in Trump Tower. "Look at this beautiful letter from Kim Jong-il!" he wants to boast. "Nobody has a more beautiful letter [from a blood-thirsty dictator] than this!"
Those who've followed his quest for celebrity since he first emerged in New York society, an overfed hounddog panting for approval, know that he's always been driven by the need to prove that he's better than all those elite NY snobs making fun of him. Now he holds the state secrets! He can classify or declassify with a snap of the fingers! That's real power! But they're still making fun of him! He rages. Ketchup drips from the walls. You want to turn away from the tantrum out of sheer embarrassment.
Many of the article's commenters will have none of it, of course. Haberman probably understands Trump better than any other reporter alive, but they're sure she's got it wrong this time. He's copying the documents for Putin! He's going to sell them to our enemies! He wants to use them to blackmail his political enemies! Follow the money! They'd much rather believe he's deviously evil than the sorry pathetic whimperer still trying to prove he's the coolest kid on the block. Sad.
He never did understand the nature of the Presidency, the institutional limits and boundaries. The US President is sometimes referred to as the world's most powerful man. Trump took this far too literally. He thought he could run the country the way he did his businesses -- demand complete loyalty and obeisance and count on an army of lawyers to keep the law off his back. But the Presidency doesn't work that way and now he's having trouble finding competent lawyers still willing to take him on. The comical fumbling of this latest group as they attempt to exert some kind of executive privilege makes you want to snigger behind your hand. He's no longer the President, he has no executive privilege anymore. (I love that the judge, with some irritation, directed them to a template for making a motion that is on the Court's website). Or consider his risible claim that anything he moved into the White House residence was automatically declassified. The President does not rule by fiat and whim. This makes no sense to him. His solipsism is such that he was never able to separate the role of President from his sense of self. L'etat, c'est moi! Which is certainly a factor in his inability to let go once he lost the election.
Is the noose finally tightening? Hell, I don't know. But the MAGA crowd continues to shrink, bit by bit. Of course the archivists will get the documents back (do NOT mess with librarians). Maybe he'll be indicted for something. He'll continue to rage and whimper. He'll always have his sycophants, eager to reassure him that he really is still the President. There'll always be another couple of two-bit lawyers ready to file another frivolous motion. But nothing will ever fill the vacancy inside. The whining will never stop. You could almost feel sorry for the slob. Almost.